How Does Car Insurance Protect You if an At-Fault Driver Hits and Runs?

(And what to do if you're left alone at the scene)
Hit and runs

Drivers need to be prepared for the variety of risks when behind the wheel, including getting in a hit-and-run accident. So what happens if you're in an accident with an at-fault driver and they speed off? We'll tell you, we'll also tell you if you're covered.

Fortunately, an independent insurance agent can help you think about and prepare for risks like this before they even happen. They're experts in the auto insurance field and have handled claims for a multitude of scenarios. Here's how they can help protect you against a hit-and-run.

What Happens if an At-fault Driver Flees the Scene after Smashing Up Your Car?

With more than six million accidents occurring every year and 11% of those being hit-and-runs, the chances of the other driver fleeing the scene of an accident isn't that uncommon. If you're driving to work and suddenly get rear-ended, whether your car is drivable or not, you need to call your insurance company. Even though the at-fault driver is no longer on the scene, you need to stay there to assess the damage and relay what happened to your insurance company. 

Sometimes an auto accident results in the police coming to the scene. If this occurs, you can tell the police what happened, provide as much detail as you have about the driver who hit you, and then contact your insurance company. 

Leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor in most states and can even be a felony if the accident resulted in injured parties, so providing the police with as much information as possible regarding the at-fault driver is crucial.  If you don't have any information on the driver, seek out any witnesses who may have seen the accident. As with any accident, it's always best to take photos of the damage to your car to have on hand.

Is My Auto Insurance Going to Protect Me in a Hit-and-Run?

With the right insurance policy, you won't be left alone after a hit-and-run. Some policies will include coverage that will have your back in a hit-and-run, but others may not. 

You might know that you were in a hit-and-run, but if you were not able to gather any information on the at-fault driver or their vehicle, it's your word against your insurance. That's why you should work with your insurance agent to make sure your auto policy includes the following: 

Collision insurance: This covers the damage and repairs needed for your vehicle after a collision with other vehicles or inanimate objects, no matter who is at fault. The caveat is that it will not cover medical bills. So if you're injured in a hit-and-run, you'll need additional insurance to cover your hospital bills. 

Personal injury protection (PIP): This will assist in paying medical bills due to a vehicle accident regardless of who's at fault.

Making sure your policy has these two insurance coverage options assures that you're properly protected should you get in a hit-and-run accident. 

What Happens to My Insurance Rates After a Hit-and-Run?

Being involved in a hit-and-run does not automatically mean your insurance rates will increase, but it's likely. The amount of increase depends largely on your policy and your driving history. Some insurance companies offer good driver discounts and accident forgiveness. 

If your insurance rates increase immensely, it might be time to shop for new insurance. Switching auto insurance policies can result in variety of discounts on car insurance rates.

Will Auto Property Coverage Help Me in This Situation?

Property coverage is part of your liability insurance. If you cause an accident that damages or destroys another person's car or truck, your liability insurance would pay for the repairs to the other driver’s vehicle, up to your property damage limit. Likewise, if you run into a building or drive into a hedge, your property damage liability coverage will cover the costs of replacing or repairing the damaged items.

However, property coverage is not going to help you much in a hit-and-run unless you were the at-fault driver. Even though you don't need property coverage for a hit-and-run, liability insurance is required in every state, so it's best to understand the benefits your liability policy offers. 

Do I Need Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage as Well? 

As of December of 2019, 13% of drivers didn't have insurance. So what happens if you're involved in an accident with one of these drivers? That's where uninsured/underinsured coverage comes into play. There's a slight difference in the two coverages to be aware of:

  • Uninsured motorist coverage: This is when the other driver doesn’t have any coverage at the time of an accident.
  • Underinsured motorist coverage: This is when the other driver has insurance but doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for all expenses of the accident. 

Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you happen to get hit by an uninsured driver, and it will help to pay for medical costs, pain and suffering, and lost wages associated with the accident. 

Whether you're dealing with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, if you don't have this coverage in your policy, you could be responsible for the repairs to your vehicle. The states that do require uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage include: Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

What about Extra Endorsements? Do I Need Them?

Endorsements to insurance are individually added coverages that allow you to customize your insurance to fit your needs. When it comes to dealing with a hit-and-run, there isn't a specific endorsement that will help much beyond making sure you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. However, depending on your situation, there are endorsements that you could benefit from adding to your insurance in general including: 

  • Coverage for modified vehicles if you're adding custom parts and equipment to your car
  • Classic car coverage
  • Rental car coverage
  • Flood damage coverage
  • Hail damage coverage
  • Recreational vehicle coverage
  • Pet coverage

These are just a few common endorsement options. You can work with your independent insurance agent to discuss your needs and any endorsements that might fit your situation. 

Here’s How an Independent Insurance Agent Would Help

When it comes to hit-and-runs and other auto-related risks, an independent insurance agent is the best person to make sure you have the proper protection. They search through multiple carriers to find providers who specialize in this type of insurance, deliver quotes from a number of different sources, and help you walk through the quotes to find the best blend of coverage and cost.

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